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Work Continues to Change… In the late 20 th and early 21 st centuries…

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Presentation on theme: "Work Continues to Change… In the late 20 th and early 21 st centuries…"— Presentation transcript:

1 Work Continues to Change… In the late 20 th and early 21 st centuries…

2 Changed Wage-Skill Relationship Ford's five-dollar day often cited as a key factor in expanding the middle class The five-dollar day reversed the historical relationship between wages and skill. Throughout history, the way for workers to increase the price they demanded for their services was to increase their skill level, and the way for an employer to lower labor costs was to lower the skill required to do the work. The five-dollar day created something the world had never seen before: the high-wage/low skill job. But the new wage-skill relationship had unintended consequences for employers as well… Workers at the Ford Motor Company Rouge Plant Foundry, 1935 From the Collections of The Henry Ford. ID#THF68318

3 Labor Unions Workers had power; if they felt they were treated unfairly, they could withhold their labor and bring a company or industry to a halt When Great Depression prevented employers from paying the wages workers had grown accustomed to, workers formed unions Using strikes, workers forced employers to sign written contracts, defining a new balance of power between worker and employer Union Representatives Handing out Literature at Ford Rouge Plant, August, 1937 From the Collections of The Henry Ford, ID#THF23922

4 Multiple ways of working existed. Example: Japan: Flexible work rules Workers asked to provide ideas on improving process, quality Team-based Cutting-edge technology (all factories built/rebuilt after WWII) U.S.: Unions had firm work rules Management did not ask workers’ opinions on improving process and quality Individualistic Many factories from turn of the 20 th century In 21 st century, U.S. industries becoming more similar to Japanese industries

5 Mechanization Manufacturers continue to innovate assembly lines by using machinery to assist workers Machinery good for repetitive or dangerous tasks and measuring quantity Human are needed to innovate the process, monitor quality, and take care of machinery Robot, First Unimate Robot Ever Installed on an Assembly Line, 1961 From the Collections of The Henry Ford, ID# THF17594

6 Globalization U.S. manufacturers compete with foreign companies to sell products in the United States Advertisement for the 1986 Nissan Stanza Wagon, "Nissan Innovation Strikes Again" From the Collections of The Henry Ford, ID# THF73709

7 Globalization U.S. companies want people in foreign companies to buy their cars. It is expensive to ship cars around the world. Also, the people in these markets need the money to purchase vehicles, so it makes sense to employ these potential customers in automobile factories, as was done with the $5 Day. Therefore factories are moved closer to these new markets. Companies also manufacture overseas to avoid: –Rules about work set by unions –Laws about work and pollution –Taxes

8 Industrial Work Force Auto industry needed many workers Multiple generations of families are often employed in auto industry, in both low- skill and skilled jobs Whole regions depend on industry Industrial work force has few options when manufacturing leaves area Today’s migration is FROM Michigan TO other places Portrait of "Multigenerational" Family of Ford Workers, 2000 From the Collections of The Henry Ford, ID#THF68348 Three generations of this family work for Ford Motor Company

9 Rust Belt to Sun Belt Migration High costs associated with unions (especially work rules and benefits) lead companies to manufacture in “right to work” states Some auto plants move from North to Southeast New auto plants, especially owned by foreign companies, open in Southeast People move to follow jobs Image Source: The Growth and Distribution of American Cities: 1790 to U.S. Census Bureau. Available via

10 Rust Belt to Sun Belt Migration Image Source: The Growth and Distribution of American Cities: 1790 to U.S. Census Bureau. Available via


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